Driving to the Flinders Ranges

One of our favourite places in South Australia is Aroona Valley in the heart of the Flinders Ranges in northern South Australia. We have camped there on a number of occasions, the first time was during our honeymoon many years ago.


Aroona Valley is about five to six hours by road north of Adelaide. Except for the last section, the highway is now all sealed. When I first travelled there in the late 1960s about the last 100 kilometres was dirt road – and not in a very good condition either. It certainly was an adventure in those days, but I had to go there because my first teaching job was at nearby Parachilna Rural School.

One can take several routes from Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges.

  • The main highway through Port Wakefield, Port Pirie, Port Augusta then Quorn and Hawker is the longest.
  • Through Gawler, Clare Valley, Wilmington, Quorn then Hawker is the most picturesque but can be rather slow in parts because there are many interesting places to stop on the way.
  • Another picturesque route is Gawler, Clare, Riverton, Burra, Peterborough, Orroroo then Hawker.
  • The most direct route is Gawler, Clare, Jamestown, Orroroo and then Hawker.

From Hawker one has several choices to get to Aroona Valley and other parts of the ranges:

  • Many people base themselves at Hawker, leaving their caravan there and driving through the various tracks north of there.
  • Others take the route to Wilpena Pound and base themselves in the shady camping ground there.
  • Yet others go only as far as the lovely caravan and camping ground at Rawnsley Park on the southern edge of Wilpena Pound.
  • The other route is due north from Hawker towards Parachilna, turning off at the Brachina Gorge dirt track heading in towards the ranges.

Oh no, writing about such interesting and beautiful places makes me want to pack and leave immediately. This would make up for the disappointment of the last trip there a few years ago. We took our caravan to Rawnsley Park Caravan Park for ten days. On the way I was aware of having a sore throat. I then spent much of the next ten days coughing, wheezing, sniffing, sneezing and generally feeling miserable.

I spent some of the time huddled up in bed. This wasn’t as bad as it seems. I had a ten million dollar view of the ranges through the caravan window.


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